Report - - The Grotto House, Lower Basildon August 2018 | Residential Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - The Grotto House, Lower Basildon August 2018


grumpy sod
Regular User
You know that feeling you get when you step inside somewhere you've wanted to see for absolutely years? That happened to me here. I have wanted to see inside this manor house pretty much ever since I started exploring so to finally step foot inside here was a pretty nice moment for me.

The Grotto House or Basildon Grotto was built in 1720 by Viscount Fane of Basildon Park for his wife Lady Mary Fane who was a Maid of Honour for Queen Anne. The original much smaller house was attached to a 'grotto' elaborately decorated with shells and an adjoining 'rock room' for Lady Fane's 'retirement and pleasure'. After the Basildon estate was sold to the Sykes family in 1771, the original Basildon Park manor house was torn down and The Grotto House was substantially altered and expanded in size - although this involved the dismantling and removal of the original shell grotto that gave the house it's name. The Sykes family, who had built a new house on the site of the former Basildon Park Manor then leased the extended Grotto House to various families over the ensuing years. When the last member of the Sykes family died in 1875, the house was bought by a long term tenant Arthur Smith who subsequently became the High Sheriff of Berkshire.

It remained a family home until 1953 when the last occupiers sold it to the Institute of Park & Recreation Administration (later known as ILAM - Institute of Leisure Amenity Management) who used it as their head offices and training college. It stayed in use until around 2007 when ILAM left the premises and it was sold to a new owner. It appeared that they started work on the building at some point as the end of one of the wings is stripped right back to bare brick, however it doesn't appear to have gotten off the ground and I presume it was after the work stopped that the steel shutters went up over every floor except the very top.

Inside it is obvious that a lot of the damage done to the fabric of the building was done when there was work being undertaken on it, all the pipework and plumbing has been removed and there are various holes knocked here and there but it's still surprisingly solid inside with no rotten floors to speak of. On wandering around it really did remind me of Lillesden in terms of the general condition, internal colours and architecture - the building is a proper maze with stairs going off in all sorts of random directions to different areas with all the extensions added over the years.

Thanks for looking :)​


grumpy sod
Regular User
Not bad, but "the gotto house" ? Sounds like some daft euro code name lol
That's its actual name, it's a strange one I agree. I guess as it was built as an attachment to an 18th century shell grotto the name stuck, its known as either that or Basildon Grotto historically.

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